ICC bans Smith for 1 test match

STEVE Smith stepped down as Australia captain yesterday and has been suspended for one test by the International Cricket Council .

STEVE Smith stepped down as Australia captain yesterday and has been suspended for one test by the International Cricket Council amid stunning ball-tampering revelations that have plunged the test team into crisis.

Smith was also fined 100 percent of his match fee, while opening batsman Cameron Bancroft, who was caught on camera attempting to alter the condition of the ball, was handed three demerit points and a 75 percent fine of his match fee.

Bancroft, however, escaped a ban and is therefore free to play in the fourth test starting in Johannesburg on Friday if selected. David Warner also resigned as vice captain yesterday amid shock and disappointment at the conduct of the team back home.

Cricket Australia said Smith and Warner had agreed to give up their leadership roles following “discussions” with the governing body, with wicketkeeper Tim Paine to take the reins for the remainder of the third test in Cape Town and mostly likely now the fourth.

“This test match needs to proceed, and in the interim we will continue to investigate this matter with the urgency that it demands,” CA CEO James Sutherland said in a statement.

“Cricket Australia and Australian cricket fans expect certain standards of conduct from cricketers representing our country, and on this occasion these standards have not been met.

“All Australians, like us, want answers and we will keep you updated on our findings, as a matter of priority.”

Smith and Warner’s demotion came hours after Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull heaped pressure on CA to act swiftly and decisively.

“I have to say that the whole nation which holds those who wear the ‘baggy green’ up on a pedestal about as high as you can get in Australia, certainly higher than any politician that’s for sure, this is a shocking disappointment,” he said.

Smith had admitted on Saturday that the ball-tampering carried out by Bancroft had been orchestrated by himself and senior players but although he was “embarrassed” by the scandal, he had no intention of stepping down as skipper.

The series is tied at 1-1, though South Africa is in a strong position in the third test having set Australia 430 to win.

The cost to Australia’s reputation is high, with cricketing officials and former players across the globe branding the team cheats and fans castigating the players on social media.

South Africa coach Ottis Gibson had called for strong action from the ICC.

“I’m shocked at what’s gone on. I’ve never seen anything as blatant as that,” he told SuperSport television.

Australian newspapers described the scandal as the worst captaincy crisis since 1981 when skipper Greg Chappell instructed younger brother Trevor to bowl underarm with the last ball of a one-day match against New Zealand to secure a victory.

Michael Clarke, Smith’s predecessor as captain, said the revelations were “disgraceful” and that he had no doubt that the skipper would be “crying in his hotel room”.

“I can’t believe the senior players have made a decision to do that,” he told Australian television. “It’s disgraceful and it’s not accepted by anyone.”

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